Lima is Michelin Star Chef Atul Kochhar’s take on South American cuisine. Located right next to NRI, at Bandra Kurla Complex, the restaurant offers modern style South American food while keeping true to traditional flavours. The décor is simple yet chic, and looks very inspired by the interiors of a colonial Peruvian villa. The place would look amazing during the day. The amount of natural light that this lounge gets with it’s long windows would just make every plate of food pop with colour. We got to Lima at around 7:30pm though. The place was dimly lit and low light levels set a nice tone for our dinner.
The first dish that was served to us was Ceviche Classico. Seabass, Sweet-Potato Confit and Leche de Tigre. Classic as it gets, this ceviche was a bowlful of varied tastes and textures that resulted in a stunning dish. The combination of buttery confit sweet potatoes, with chunks of fish cured in a citrus-based marinade, and the crunch of toasted chulpe corn topped with red onion slices, was a treat to our senses. Every bite transported us to Cevicheria and we found ourselves swaying to the music that was played in the background. Ceviche is to Peruvians, what pasta is to Italians; and this dish started off the evening with a bang.
For drinks, we ordered Pisco Sour and Rosemary Passion Chili. Both these cocktails had Pisco, the Peruvian grape-based white spirit. It was a refreshing twist to the classic whiskey sour that had egg white, lime and sugar. The Rosemary Passion Chili was delicious, with the prominent flavour of Passion Fruit and a just a hint of spice with the chili. It went really well with our meal.
We then had the Tuna Tiradito. A dish that had raw Tuna cut like Sashimi, which demonstrates the influence of Japanese immigrants in Peruvian cooking. Though Ceviche also has raw fish, the factors that differentiate a Tiradito and Ceviche are the style in which the fish is cut and also how it is prepared to serve. Ceviche is cured fish whereas in Tiradito, the sauce is poured over the fish just before it’s served. Here we had thinly sliced Tuna topped with bright Aji chili paste, Chia seeds, sliced red onions and toasted quinoa. The Aji chili paste is made out of yellow Aji chili or Aji escabeche. It is mild and the paste almost tastes like an aioli. The mature pods of the chili though are bright orange in color and ranges from 40,000-50,000 units on the Scoville scale, which is pretty hot! This dish however was really mild and delicious with crunch of the onion slices, the gelatinous texture of the soaked chia seed added another texture dimension to the dish. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
You won’t usually find us excited when it comes to salad. We weren’t expecting much of the next dish, which was a simple Quinoa salad. Well, actually, it was a multicolored Quinoa salad, with red, black and white quinoa, and Passion Fruit Leche. We were terribly wrong in underestimating Chef Jerry’s skills in bringing this salad to life. The salad was simple, but how Chef Jerry played with textures in the dish won our hearts. The crunch of the toasted quinoa was well camouflaged with the different colors of the seed, and that just lifted the dish and made the experience of eating such a simple salad truly enjoyable. Passion Fruit, as a fruit is so versatile, it can usually be used in a savoury dish or dessert and we really loved it in the Pisco cocktail too. It’s acidity and sweetness was brilliantly used in the dressing of this dish.
Another salad that impressed was the Chicken Causa. Causa as a cold-layered salad/starter has a very deep history of how it came to being and there are various versions of it. Though it has evolved with time, the components of the dish have more or less remain the same. It has potato topped with fish (usually canned), egg with olives or avocado. We loved Lima’s version of this dish. Chicken Causa with Huancaina (wan-ka-eena) sauce. It had mini purple potato patties laced with the Huancaina sauce, topped with a quenelle of chicken salad, egg shavings and chives. Traditionally, Huancaina sauce is made of Queso Fresco, oil, Aji chili, evaporated milk and salt. It had a very creamy and rich consistency and it really brought the dish together.
The next dish was Mushroom Ceviche. A mix of Enoki, Trumpet, Shimeji, Shitake and Button mushrooms served in a Ponzu reduction. A dish that celebrates Japanese influence in Peruvian cuisine. With Nikkei cuisine (fusion of Japanese and Peruvian cuisine) Lima is subtly making the Indian palate aware of a new combination of flavours. Japanese cuisine is elegant and delicate and Peruvian cuisine is fresh and punchy; it’s a match made in heaven. We loved how the mushrooms had soaked up all the ponzu goodness and it added a lot of its earthiness to the reduction. It was delicious and the specs of sesame seeds made it look really good.
Our meal would have been incomplete without tacos, so the next dish we tried was Prawn Tacos. We had the Garlic rubbed Prawns with Pica de Gallo made with green tomatoes. It was packed with flavour and had everything that a good taco should have. We would’ve really liked it if the prawns had a spicy kick to it. Just personal preference. And, our prayers were answered with the next dish.
We had the Quinotto; a quinoa based risotto. What we loved about this dish was how the Aji Chili went well with earthy flavours of the mushrooms and the crunch of the popped quinoa seeds. A flavour bomb. Aji chili paste is used as the base of the sauce, in which the quinoa is cooked, which gives it the bright yellow color. The dish is finished with popped quinoa, that’s fried in chili oil, giving you a subtle hint of heat that makes this dish simply irresistible.
And how could we end our meal without having Chimichangas! These deep fried Tortillas stuffed with lamb and refried beans will definitely be a crowd pleaser. We saw a table order multiple portions of them. Chimichangas are served with salsa and sour cream. One of our favourites of the evening.
We also sampled some more dishes that were part of the ongoing GR8 American Food And Beverage Festival that was organized by the USDA – U.S Dept of Agriculture to promote U.S products. Lima is one of the restaurants taking part in this promotion and has a menu designed especially for it. The promotion is on till the 26th of October, 2016.
We loved the Poached Pear Salad with Toasted Walnut and Goat’s Cheese Crumble. This dish was specially created for this promotion. The poached pear was mildly flavoured and the toasted walnut and goat’s cheese crumble made it really scrumptious.
We also tried the Chile Relleno, which was Bhavnagari Chillies stuffed with Cottage Cheese, Wilbur Prunes and Chipotle, served with caramelized walnut sauce. It was a revelation to taste bhavnagari chillies made this way. The chef brought out the essence of the chili flavour sans the spicy and sometimes unnecessary heat that these chillies are famous for. The prunes added a hint of sweetness, which went really well with the nuttiness of the sauce. It was brilliantly made. Another one of our favourites of the evening.
The BBQ Habit Grilled Chicken that was also a part of the promotion menu was good too. We liked the smokey and juicy chicken thighs, and the Chili paste and honey added a twang to the dish.
For dessert we had Belgian Chocolate cake. The best chocolate cake we’ve had in a while. The cake was moist and fresh. We would go back just some of the cake if we were craving some good chocolate cake. It was perfect.
Dining at Lima was nothing short of a gastronomical wave that has got us hooked on to Peruvian flavours and as we progressed with our meal, each dish just seemed to get better. Chef Atul Kochhar has done an incredible job of introducing what is just a droplet in the ocean of flavours that Peruvian cuisine has to offer. While a few of their ingredients are imported, recreating Peruvian food with local produce sourced from their farm at Ganeshpuri is remarkable. Chef Kochhar’s vision is brilliantly reflected in Chef Jerry Thomas’s work. The staff is prompt and attentive, and the best part is they are well aware of each ingredient that goes into each dish. Lionel, was our server for the evening, and he did a great job. We had really enjoyed dining at Lima and can’t wait to go back for more.